Konstanzer and Griffith Shine in Falcons' Loss
Oct. 29, 2009
USAF ACADEMY, Colo. - Freshmen Grace Konstanzer and Dani Griffith had an impressive night, but the Air Force volleyball team dropped a three-set match to New Mexico at the Academy's Clune Arena on Thursday, Oct. 29. After falling 25-9 in the first set, the Falcons narrowed the Lobos margin of victory to a handful of points with 25-23 and 25-20 losses.
Nearly 250 fans braved the blizzard that has been pounding the Front Range for the past two days to help the Falcons celebrate their first-ever "PINK" event, in support of breast cancer awareness.
Konstanzer's performance in the final two sets was a major part of the Falcons' improvement as the match progressed. The freshman tallied a team-best seven kills (all in the final two periods) at a team-leading clip of .294. Connecting on seven of 17 attempts, while committing just two errors, Konstanzer recorded her second-best single-match performance of the season when having more than 10 attempts. In addition to her offensive power, Konstanzer collected seven digs, one assisted block and the team's 100th service ace of the season.
Coming off of the bench, Griffith paced the Falcons with a career-best 17 assists and 11 digs for the first double-double of her young career. She also recorded three kills on eight attempts, with no errors for a hitting proficiency of .375. In addition, the 5-4 setter assisted on her first collegiate block.
Assisted by five Air Force attacking errors, New Mexico started the match with a 6-1 advantage. Junior Caroline Kurtz posted Air Force's first two offensive points (7-3), but the Lobos doubled up the Falcons at the 10-5 mark. Despite a pair of kills from Griffith, UNM used nine more attacking errors from the Falcons to take the first set by a 25-9 margin.
New Mexico claimed the first four points of the second set, before sending a serve into the net. Another kill by Kurtz helped the Falcons pull within two at the 6-4 mark. New Mexico maintained its lead, but Air Force wasn't giving up, cutting the deficit to one (15-14) with Konstanzer's 17th ace of the season. The Lobos edged out a four-point lead (21-17), but junior Nichole Stilwell tallied a strike that sparked the Falcons. Air Force cut into that lead and a kill by senior Michelle Harrington brought the Falcons back within one at 24-23. New Mexico ultimately earned the deciding point to take the set 25-23.
A block by Harrington and Griffith, as well as a kill from Kurtz, helped the Falcons take a 3-1 lead to start the third set. New Mexico tied the set at six and took a two-point lead, but Air Force responded to even the score at eight. A block by Stilwell and Konstanzer regained the advantage for the Falcons and a service ace by freshman Maiya Perich - her 23rd of the season - helped Air Force extend its lead. Kills from Harrington, Konstanzer and Griffith pushed Air Force out to a 19-14 lead. New Mexico scored the next three points, but Air Force was the first to reach the 20-point mark. Unfortunately for the Falcons, New Mexico junior (and Colorado Springs native) Lisa Meeter served out the set for the 25-20 Lobo victory.
Harrington and Stilwell recorded a team-leading two blocks, as they each tallied one solo block and assisted on another. Harrington finished second on the team with six kills, while Perich added nine digs.
Air Force remains at the Academy for a Halloween showdown with TCU on Saturday, Oct. 31, at 1 p.m. Admission is free for fans wearing a costume and special promotions will take place throughout the match, including the "best dressed contest".